Heat-generating capsule jab can reduce belly fat

Updated: Sep 06, 2012, 13:00 PM IST

Washington: Soon you can get rid of that beer belly with a single jab!

Researchers have developed an injection of a tiny capsule, containing heat-generating cells, which they claim can burn abdominal fat.

The mice injected with the capsule in the abdomen initially lost about 20 percent of belly fat.

Researchers were surprised to see that the injected cells even acted like "missionaries," converting existing belly fat cells into so-called thermogenic cells, which use them to generate heat.

Over time, the mice gained back some weight, but they resisted any dramatic weight gain on a high-fat diet and burned away more than a fifth of the cells that make up their visceral fat which surrounds the organs and is linked to higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Scientists took advantage of the heat-generating properties of a so-called `good fat` in the body, to cut back on the white cells that compose the visceral fat.

They combined those brown fat thermogenic cells with genetically modified cells missing an enzyme that leads to visceral fat growth.

The engineered cells were placed inside a gel-like capsule that allowed for release of its contents without triggering an immune response.

"With a very small number of cells, the effect of the injection of this capsule was more pronounced at the beginning, when the mice dramatically lost about 10 per cent of their weight," said Ouliana Ziouzenkova, assistant professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.

"They gained some weight back after that. But then we started to look at how much visceral fat was present, and we saw about a 20 per cent reduction in those lipids.

Importantly, other nontreated peripheral or subcutaneous fat, which has some beneficial health effects, remained the same. That`s what we want," Ziouzenkova said in a statement.

If this were approved for humans, Ziouzenkova said, such a therapy would be best suited to patients who develop visceral fat with aging, aren`t able to exercise and shouldn`t dramatically reduce their calories because that can cause the loss of beneficial subcutaneous fat.

The research was published in the journal `Biomaterials`.